Exclusive: Russia builds up forces in Syria, Reuters data analysis shows
The Russian Navy’s missile corvette Mirazh sails in the Bosphorus, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea, in Istanbul, Turkey, October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Murad Sezer
By Jack Stubbs and Maria Tsvetkova | MOSCOW | REUTERS
Russia has built up its forces in Syria since a ceasefire collapsed in late September, sending in troops, planes and advanced missile systems, a Reuters analysis of publicly available tracking data shows.
The data points to a doubling of supply runs by air and sea compared to the nearly two-week period preceding the truce. It appears to be Russia’s biggest military deployment to Syria since President Vladimir Putin said in March he would pull out some of his country’s forces.
The increased manpower probably includes specialists to put into operation a newly delivered S-300 surface-to-air missile system, military analysts said.
The S-300 system will improve Russia’s ability to control air space in Syria, where Moscow’s forces support the government of President Bashar al-Assad, and could be aimed at deterring tougher U.S. action, they said.
“The S-300 basically gives Russia the ability to declare a no-fly zone over Syria,” said Justin Bronk, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London.
“It also makes any U.S. attempt to do so impossible. Russia can just say: ‘We’re going to continue to fly and anything that tries to threaten our aircraft will be seen as hostile and destroyed’.”
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